Finning for the Fens project

BIRSE WATER has contracted Finning Power Systems, sole UK supplier of Caterpillar equipment, to supply the complete critical back-up power for the main pumps at the UK's largest pumping station as part of the Fens flood protection. Due to come on stream in 2010, the £38M new plant on the Middle level drain at St Germans, near Kings Lynn, will help protect 70,000 hectares of land and 25,000 homes from the North Sea.

Finning is supplying six CAT 3500 series generators to power the six pumps. Three of these generator sets provide emergency power for three pumps, which would normally be mains-powered. The other three generators are the sole source of power for the remaining three pumps.

The generator sets provide a total of 8160kWe power, generating at 690V with non-standard alternators specifically designed and manufactured for the project.

Finning is responsible for delivery to site, offloading, installation, commissioning and site testing of the complete solution prior to handover. Each generator set will have a day fuel tank with a larger fuel storage tank providing back up, enabling all six pumps to work continuously for ten days in the event of a complete mains power failure and serious flooding. An additional auxiliary generator, supplied by Finning, provides a black start for the main generators plus power for other needs.

The project is the responsibility of the Middle Level Commissioners (MLC), a Cambridgeshire authority responsible for Land Drainage and Navigation. When operational, the new pumping station will be able to pump 100 tonnes of water a second, a 40% increase on the existing station.

David Thomas, chief engineer for MLC, said: "Climate change is a major threat for the Fens so we had to act. This project has been designed to provide protection up to the year 2050 and takes this threat into account."

The new St Germans pumping station is expected to be fully operational by next summer. The existing station continues to operate in the meantime.

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